Founded Aug. 1, 1991, Hale Kau Kau (House of Meals) is a nonprofit program of Saint Theresa’s Church in Kīhei. Its mission is to feed the hungry and the homebound stricken with various disabilities. Hale Kau Kau acts as a channel for the needy and assists them with access for additional help. They welcome strangers and unconditionally serve a free meals daily to men, women and children who do not have the resources to meet the basic need for food.
“We haven’t missed a day in almost 20 years,” said Frank Shuster of the Hale Kau Kau Program.
A miracle happens daily at St. Theresa’s Church. Beginning at 3 p.m., the kitchen bustles with people from all walks of life, who prepare warm, nutritious meals every day for those in need, both on-site and through deliveries to the homebound in South Maui.
Rev. Msgr. Terrence A.M. Watanabe, executive director of Hale Kau Kau, and Marie Osaki, kitchen manager, run one of the most compassionate programs on Maui.
“Hale Kau Kau provides approximately 50,000 meals a year, with that number increasing every year,” said Kitchen Manager Marie Osaki.
“We have seen a rise in meals being served due to the current economic and employment situation,” said Hale Kau Kau’s Executive director, Rev. Msgr. Terrence A.M. Watanabe. “This means an increase in the need for funding to continue the service at a very critical time.”
A grant from Maui County helps with funding, but the program also relies on donations from businesses, individuals and the annual Pā‘ina fundraiser.
Much help is continually needed to provide an evening meal 365 days a year. Volunteers pick up food from the Maui Food Bank, vendors and donors. Sorting and stocking the pantry is a daily job for the volunteers, who generously donate their time and cooking talents.
The daily meal preparation is often supported by student interns from Maui Culinary Academy at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College.
“All are at work to assure that the meal of the day is nutritious, sufficient and properly served. Everyone in need is welcome, and there is something for everyone to do and contribute,” said Osaki.
“Where’s my apron?” shouted Terry Turek, a visitor from Wisconsin. When asked why he serves food at Hale Kau Kau while on vacation, he replied, “There is more in life besides getting a suntan. I am a big supporter of this program and I want to help people.”
“As in the past, the community is invited to participate in a number of ways,” said Osaki. For example, there are sponsorships for the event, contributions of items for the auctions, advertising in the event program, attendance at the Pā‘ina, donations and volunteering.
Individual tickets for “Music Feeds the Soul” are $75. Entertainment during the dinner and auction will be provided by Island Stylin’ and the fiery, Latin-flavored acoustic jam of Joe Cano and Tom Conway. There will also be a special benefit performance by Hawai‘i’s premier entertainer, Uncle Willie K.
“With your support and willingness to help us continue this tradition of helping the needy, we are confident this event will be a great success,” said Osaki. “It is the continuous hard work of the community and county that makes this all possible.”